Alayne wanted me to love her intensely. “I found you in a rosebush” she often reminded me, “and gave you to your mother.” I believed her absolutely though sometimes I wondered why, if I really was her angel child, she didn’t keep me for herself when she had the chance. Of course, that wasn’t a question I was supposed to ask and so, angel child that I was, I didn’t. We never got into who put me in the rosebush or whether I was supposed to have been a flower that miraculously bloomed into a baby but it suited Alayne to have had such an experience and it pleased me to have had so unlikely a debut. Hearing this probably annoyed the hell out of my mother and the time came, perhaps after I stopped believing in Santa-Claus, when Alayne no longer told her magical story although she continued to refer to herself as my “other mother”. Like my mother and her friends Alayne was far more gorgeous and glamorous than the average husband required of a wife although for Lyman, her husband (a connoisseur of art, antiques and fine books not to mention women), she was probably just the ticket.

They lived with their miniature schnauzer, first Jeep then Buttons on Park Avenue, — the upper 70’ a spacious apartment filled with paintings, rare books and some priceless treasures I had to be careful not to touch or, more likely as I skipped by, jiggle. She held court of a morning in the master bed of the master bedroom where,  however, the master did not sleep. He camped out in his library and possibly paid visits when he was of a mind to enjoy the conjugal rights for which he was paying so dearly. (Yes, I know it’s none of my business but who wouldn’ t like to know?) When I visited overnight I was the one who slept in the library and Lyman went to his club. Or so I now reason because if he ever tucked in for the entire night next to his luscious wife why wasn’t he around early the following morning?

The walls and nearly invisible closets that lined each side of the bedroom were covered in a pale blue silk moiré. The bed and headboard were upholstered in blue satin, and the sheets were ivory satin between which Alayne was, mornings, magnificently ensconced wearing an embroidered, beribboned bedjacket. Over her lap was an enormous bedtray with curving cabriole legs and cubbyholes for the mail and newspapers. There would be a softboiled egg in a china eggcup, toast and coffee.

She would send the dog to stand in the corner for some unknown failure to obey the rules. After a while she would whisper, “if there’s a little dog in this room who would like to say he’s sorry he can come here now and ask for forgiveness..” And little Jeepor Buttons, would pad over looking crestfallen, put his paws on the bed with his little head between them and wait to be absolved and fed a bit of toast.

Her dressing room was lined with mirrored closets and a large round mirror was attached to the back of a swivel chair in front of the long, mirrored vanity so that she could see her face and hair from every angle.

When I was about six Alayne went to an Episcopal orphanage to adopt Rosemary (a name immediately changed to Barbara), a little girl about my age –who, in the pictures I have, is beautiful and looks as if she’s about to cry. Alayne transformed the maid’s room, a small cell near the kitchen with one high window and a tiny attached bathroom, into a bedroom for her. We were to be friends and, I realized at dinner one evening when we were having a spelling bee, competitors. When I realized that I was being shown off to Barbara’s belittlement I stopped playing but it wasn’t soon enough.

After a year Alayne sent Barbara/Rosemary back to the orphanage.

She wasn’t me.

1 Response to “Alayne”

  1. 1 Angela December 12, 2007 at 2:18 am

    I was laughing out loud at your little story – too funny and too close to home. Literally. I was so worried because I could not find your “Coconut Oil Miracle” book and I was going crazy – really crazy, and then John found it under the sofa. Roxie must have put it there. I may need to borrow your new book also..the How to Find Lost Objects…jewelry, some if it expensive, is somewhere in this house. I keep thinking when and if we get a new stove – it will all appear. I am hoping it is all under there somewhere because that’s where I hang out the most. Well, I used to but not so much anymore. Whatever!

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